Every strength is also a weakness: Bill Clinton's charm. George W. Bush's self-confidence. Barack Obama's analytical capacity. This applies to all of us, not just to presidents. You can't have strengths without weaknesses any more than you can have a building without a shadow. What separates good leaders from great ones is that great leaders recognize their weaknesses and actively work to transcend them. 

Chris Christie's strength — and his weakness — is his tenacity (his record as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey was remarkable). It's what has allowed him to get things done, and it's also what may paralyze him going forward.

There's an expression in leadership training — what got you here won't get you there. The manager who was promoted because of her ability to excel personally will have to stop executing and start influencing. Personal achievement, which had been an asset, becomes a liability. What got you here won't get you there. It's time to stop walking and start flying.

Chris Christie is in the middle of this transformation. Let's hope he has some good coaches who can help him, but let's also use his example as an opportunity for our own reflection.

What are your strengths in life (as a parent, son, daughter, partner, friend, leader) and what weaknesses necessarily come with that? Are you empathic toward others (strength), but lacking confidence in yourself (weakness)? Are you good at seeing people's blind spots (strength), but tend to lecture others (weakness)?

Every thing is actually two things. Are you seeing both sides? And if so, are you then identifying the underlying beliefs that prop up both your strengths and your weaknesses, and learning to see how these may not be true? That's the real test. Are you having a showdown with yourself? 

It's easy to point at Christie, Obama, and other national figures and laugh at their weaknesses. How good are we at recognizing our own? And how determined are we as a country to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work that we think they so desperately need to do?

The best way to help others may be to start with ourselves. That doesn't excuse their behavior, but it does give us common ground to stand on.

About the Author

Andrew Bernstein

Andrew Bernstein is the founder of ActivInsight and the author of The Myth of Stress.

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